Gary McCurry reviews the first episode of Bloodline…
Changing his mind, Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn) takes the speech in his hand and places it back in the pocket from which it came. “To the Rayburn’s!” he shouts. His audience at the annual gathering held in the picturesque family-owned getaway in Florida breathe a silent sigh of relief before completing the toast with their cheers.
Netflix bring us Bloodline, a new show that will make your dysfunctional family look like the Brady Brunch in comparison.
I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum here, be warned though, some may surface.
For Friday Night Lights alumni, Kyle Chandler, it’s less “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” and more “dark lies, new starts, family blues” as he takes on the role of John Rayburn. Chandler’s voice narrates the story, beginning with a long monologue that could be labelled as generic. Towards the end of the cleverly titled first episode, “Part 1” it becomes apparent why this method is used.
You’ll find this episode similar to True Detective in that the opening episode works to create a base in terms of who each character is and want their objectives are. In both shows the final ten minutes makes you want to watch the next episode immediately after the first. Unlike True Detective, Bloodline gives you that opportunity as Netflix has made the entire season available for binge-watching.
(On that point, I’ll try to put up these reviews as quickly as possible, normally two a week so stay with me.)
The Rayburn clan have come together to celebrate the fact a local pier is to be given the family name. The only problem is that in order for a full reunion, black sheep brother, Danny has to be involved. At one point, Mendelsohn says to on-screen sibling Chandler, “go enjoy your family” showing the audience Danny’s thoughts of his standing within the group. Knowing why such animosity existed between them wasn’t important, what was pivotal in creating this world was the truth with which it was portrayed. The show gives you this in spades. You get the sense their suffering with Danny has been long and their attempts at conciliation, unsuccessful.
At segments throughout the opener it cuts to what we discover at the end is a flash forward. This provides us with what is most likely the major thread of the show. Occurring with a bang, (literally) I found myself shouting at the TV as the final scene unfolded. Some may see it coming, although I’m not entirely sure how. If like me, you don’t, enjoy the moment and allow the situation and inevitable consequences of the action to sink in.
Ben Mendelsohn is perfectly cast here as the outsider. His mannerisms and ability to subtlety play a person on the edge is engrossing to watch. Add to that an impressive supporting cast of Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek among others and you’ve got yourself something to behold.
It’s not just the performances that make the show work but how these performances are captured on screen. The camera has a great way of capturing events that happen underwater. This gives these sequences a claustrophobic feel to them, even making you want to gasp for air at certain points.
“Your life is not always going to be this perfect you know. Things happen to people.” uttered by Mendelsohn’s character says a lot about the season opener. The bandages are holding for now but soon enough they’ll come apart, I’ll be there to watch the ensuing chaos.
Gary McCurry – Follow me on Twitter